“You’ve changed from a shambles to perhaps the best team in the Championship.”


Playoff hopefuls Reading are the visitors to Villa Park this weekend.

With this in mind, The Villa Underground caught up with ‘Hob Nob Anyone?’ (Royals.org) to gather their views ahead of the game:

Reading are currently 4th – what have been the key ingredients to get you into the playoffs as things stand?

We’re fourth, although its hard to believe!  No one expected that. It’s been all change at Reading this season.
Huge changes to the playing squad and the back room staff.
Jaap Stam has transformed the club and stuck to his new breed of patient passing football.
It hasn’t always been popular but it has worked – at home at least.

Norwich gave you a shock hammering last time out.  What on earth happened there?

One of those bad days. Every shot Norwich had early on went in.  Maybe we were too confident after recent wins.
Stam always sticks to his game plan when sometimes we might benefit from changes playing away.  Truth is we’ve been stuffed like this many times this season but Norwich grabbed a few more than others.
Not as massive a shock as the score suggests.

Who amongst your squad should we be wary of this weekend?  And who might we not have heard of who is one to watch for the future?

We really are a team rather than individuals, with a lot of players who have played a big part this season.
Kermorgant has hit form and scoring every game but helps out everywhere.
In defence we have Al Habsi and Moore to thank for saving us loads of points.
One for the future is Liam Kelly who came from nowhere this season.  He’s outstanding and covers so much of the pitch and creates so much.

What is your impression of Villa as an outsider looking in?

I think we’re lucky it took you so long to get going this season or we’d be a place lower.
You’ve changed from a shambles to perhaps the best team in the Championship.
You’ve got Hogan and Kodjia in the same team so scoring won’t be a problem.  And I guess Hogan isn’t in top form yet.
Villa are a class team and you’ll be going up next year.

Predictions:  What do you think the result will be this weekend and why?

We’ve been shocking away from home all season.  We’re top six with a negative goal difference thanks to away thrashings.
Villa are on form while we’re hoping to make the play offs on home wins alone.
Has to be a win for Villa while we set out on damage limitation.
It might be frustrating for you for a while.  We’ll defend better and only go down by a goal or two.  Maybe 2-1 to Villa.

Thanks go to Graham at ‘Hob Nob Anyone?’ for the insight.